There are lots of things that distract me from my work in progress. Television, internet, the great book I’m reading and my new kitty who insists that IT’S TIME TO PET LUCY NOW all make the list. Yesterday, I spent two hours looking at Star Trek items on Etsy searching for a mug that says, “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.” The night before I started researching underwear in the 1880’s (which was totally legitimate writing work) and then ended up at Western Emporium getting way too excited about this dress that I don’t need, would never wear, and can’t afford. But look how pretty!
As shiny and fun as those distractions are, there’s another kind I’ve discovered that needs to be carefully managed if I’m ever going to finish a story.
Last fall I was taking Storywonk’s excellent revision course, and working hard at revising THE SEARCH FOR DRAKE WHITNEY. And then it happened. Another idea came sneaking into my brain. A fun idea, one with characters I loved and a great big adventure and time travel, which is my favorite. I tried to tell Stella that she just had to wait a little while, just until Adelaide’s story was polished up, and I promised that her adventure would be next. But Stella and her friends refused to wait quietly in the recesses of my brain; instead, they jumped up and down, threw a big party and pitched ideas all over the place. They made such a mess of things, that I couldn’t find my way back to Adelaide, there was too much Stella in the way, demanding my attention. Every time I closed my eyes, there she was.
Finally, I decided to try giving Stella a little time. I sat down and started outlining, figuring out how the plot would work, using the skills I was learning in my course. I wrote down all the little ideas and thoughts and issues and got it all out of my head and onto paper.
It worked! With a plan put down on paper (or rather, hard drive), Stella was content, and let Adelaide once again throw her stuff everywhere, taking over my thoughts like she needed to in order to get her story rewritten the way it needed to be. And as soon as she was finished, Stella was there waiting, ready to embark on her great adventure in NEW WEST.
It happened again a couple of weeks ago. This time it was Evie and her little sister Dot, and instead of the whole novel clambering for attention it was just one scene. One exciting scene, with so much potential for the story to follow that I can’t wait to dive into it. Once I wrote the scene that was spinning around and around in my head, Evie and her strange dreams have been willing to take a back seat and let me get on with finishing Adelaide’s second book.
Writers, do you deal with story distraction the same way I have? Any advice for next time?
Speaking of Adelaide, I’ve left her in a bad situation over there with THE RUSTLERS OF HIDEOUT CANYON, and we’re so close to the end. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. 😉